The Hiring of Carl Smith

The Seahawks’ new quarterbacks coach, Carl Smith, has some history with Carroll.  Smith was the QB coach under Carroll in New England from 1997 – 1999 and again at USC in 2004.  Here’s a quick rundown of his more recent coaching jobs:

1986 – 96 New Orleans Saints QB coach & Offensive Coordinator
1997 – 99 New England Patriots QB and TE coach
2001 – 03 Cleveland Browns QB coach
2004 USC QB coach
2005 – 07 Jacksonville Jaguars Offensive Coordinator
2009 Cleveland Browns QB Coach

In order to get some idea about what effect Smith’s coaching had on his quarterbacks, I looked at the three QBs he worked with who started the most NFL games: Bobby Hebert and Jim Everett in New Orleans, and Drew Bledsoe in New England.

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Bobby Hebert
w/ Smith as QB coach: New Oleans, 1987 – 92
w/o Smith as QB Coach: Atlanta Falcons, 1993 – 96
Year Starts Comp. Att. Comp. % Total Yds Yds/Comp. TDs Int. TDs/Att. Int./Att.
1987 12 (of 12) 164 294 55.78 2119 12.92 15 9 0.051 0.031
1988 16 (of 16) 280 478 58.58 3156 11.27 20 15 0.042 0.031
1989 13 (of 14) 222 353 62.89 2686 12.10 15 15 0.042 0.042
1991 9 (of 9) 149 248 60.08 1676 11.25 9 8 0.036 0.032
1992 16 (of 16) 249 422 59.00 3287 13.20 19 16 0.045 0.038
Average
w/ Smith:
13.2 212.8 359 59.27 2584.8 12.15 15.6 12.6 0.043 0.035
1993 12 (of 14) 263 430 61.16 2978 11.32 24 17 0.056 0.04?
1996 13 (of 14) 294 488 60.25 3152 10.72 22 25 0.045 0.051
Avg. After
Smith:
12.5 278.5 459 60.70 3065 11.16 23 21 0.050 0.046

(Note: The starts stat lists how many games the player started out of all the games he played in a given year.  Also, years in which the player did not have many starts have been omitted.  In 1990, Hebert held out in a contract dispute, and in 1994 and 1995 he did not start a game.)

Hebert’s completion percentage under Smith was lower than it was in his later seasons by a little over 2%, and he threw 47.4% fewer touchdown passes.  However, he also threw 66.7% more interceptions and slightly under a yard less per completion in his post-Smith career.

Jim Everett
w/o Smith as QB coach: St. Louis Rams, 1986 – 93; San Diego Chargers, 1997
w/ Smith as QB coach: New Orleans Saints, 1994 – 96
Year Starts Comp. Att. Comp. % Total Yds Yds/Comp. TDs Int. TDs/Att. Int./Att.
1987 11 (of 11) 162 302 53.64 2064 12.74 10 13 0.033 0.043
1988 16 (of 16) 308 517 59.57 3964 12.87 31 18 0.066 0.035
1989 16 (of 16) 304 518 58.69 4310 14.18 29 17 0.056 0.033
1990 16 (of 16) 307 554 55.42 3989 12.99 23 17 0.042 0.031
1991 16 (of 16) 277 490 56.53 3438 12.41 11 20 0.022 0.041
1992 16 (of 16) 281 475 59.16 3323 11.83 22 18 0.046 0.038
1993 9 (of 10) 135 274 49.27 1652 12.24 8 12 0.029 0.044
Avg. Pre-
Smith:
14.3 253.4 447.1 56.04 3248.6 12.82 19.1 16.4 0.043 0.037
1994 16 (of 16) 346 540 64.07 3855 11.14 22 18 0.041 0.033
1995 16 (of 16) 345 567 60.85 3970 11.51 16 14 0.046 0.025
1996 15 (of 15) 267 464 57.54 2797 10.48 12 16 0.026 0.034
Average
w/ Smith:
15.7 319.3 523.7 60.82 3540.7 11.09 20 16 0.038 0.031

(Note: Everett started just 5 games in 1986 and 1 in 1997.)

In Everett’s case, being coached by Smith didn’t make much of a difference.  His completion percentage went up by 4.78% and threw 2.4% fewer interceptions, but he also threw 4.7% fewer TDs and 1.73 fewer yards per completion.

Drew Bledsoe
w/o Smith as QB coach: New England Patriots, 1993 – 96, 2000 – 01; Buffalo Bills, 2002 – 04;
Dallas Cowboys, 2005 – 06
w/ Smith as QB coach: New England Patriots, 1997 – 99
Year Starts Comp. Att. Comp. % Total Yds Yds/Comp. TDs Int. TDs/Att. Int/Att.
1993 12 (of 13) 214 429 49.88 2494 11.65 15 15 0.035 0.035
1994 16 (of 16) 400 691 57.89 4555 11.39 25 27 0.036 0.039
1995 15 (of 15) 323 636 50.79 3507 10.86 13 16 0.020 0.025
1996 16 (of 16) 373 623 59.87 4086 10.95 27 15 0.043 0.024
Avg. Pre-
Smith
14.75 327.5 594.8 55.07 3660.5 11.18 20 18.25 0.034 0.031
1997 16 (of 16) 314 522 60.15 3706 11.8 28 15 0.054 0.029
1998 14 (of 14) 262 481 54.47 3633 13.87 20 14 0.042 0.029
1999 16 (of 16) 305 539 56.59 3985 13.07 19 21 0.035 0.039
Average
w/ Smith
15.3 293.7 514 57.07 3774.7 12.85 22.3 16.7 0.043 0.032
2000 16 (of 16) 312 531 58.76 3291 10.55 17 13 0.032 0.024
2002 16 (of 16) 375 610 61.48 4359 11.62 24 15 0.039 0.025
2003 16 (of 16) 274 471 58.17 2860 10.44 11 12 0.023 0.025
2004 16 (of 16) 256 450 56.89 2932 11.45 20 16 0.044 0.036
2005 16 (of 16) 300 499 60.12 3639 12.13 23 17 0.046 0.034
Avg. After
Smith
16 303.4 512.2 59.23 3416.2 11.26 19 14.6 0.037 0.029

(Note: Smith started just 2 games in 2001 and 6 in 2006.)

Bledsoe is the first real big name QB Smith coached in his career, and because those years came in the middle of Bledsoe’s career we can compare his production under Smith to his production both before and after being coached by Smith, giving us a more complete picture.

The only real effect Smith’s coaching seemed to have is an increase in yards per completion (1.67 more than in his pre-Smith years and 1.59 more than in his post-Smith years) and TDs (11.5% increase over his pre-Smith years and 17.4% higher than his post-Smith years).  Bledsoe’s average completion percentage was 2% higher under Smith than it was in previous seasons, but in subsequent years his average completion percentage raised another 2.16% which suggests that Bledsoe’s production in that category was getting better on average every season with or without Smith’s coaching.  The same pattern emerges in his interception stats: his interceptions decreased by 8.5% under Smith, but then they decreased another 12.6% in the seasons that followed.

Also of note are some of the other QBs with whom Carl Smith worked: Tim Coach (Browns), Byron Leftwich (Jaguars), and Brady Quinn (Browns).  None produced enough data under Smith to add them to the analysis, but amusingly enough all of them are first round busts, and the QB he coached at USC, Matt Leinart, also went on to become a first round bust for the Cardinals.

On the whole, this is not a very impressive resume, but despite that Carroll just hired him for the third time.  The move reeks of nepotism, and frankly I am not comfortable with Carl Smith coaching any QB of the future the Seahawks might acquire.

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